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Defining Delta Dental: We’re Not a Dentist’s Office

December 01, 2015

“Can I schedule an appointment?”

“You’re a dentist’s office, right?”

“Where are you located?”

With questions like that, it’s clear not everyone understands what we do or how we promote oral and overall health. Here are a few historical facts to help clear up the confusion. 

Who is Delta Dental of Washington?

• Humble beginnings

In 1954, the ILWU (International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union) decided to finance an experimental dental benefits program for the children of its union members. It was the first time a labor union had negotiated for benefits that would apply just to the children of its members.

The dental associations in Washington, Oregon and California came together to design the program and the Washington State Dental Service Corporation was formed (now Delta Dental of Washington). 

Those supporting the program knew it had the opportunity to usher in a new era for dentistry and make routine dental care available to a wider range of people – something that had never been done before.

Hawaii joined WA, OR, and CA in 1962 and in 1969 the Delta Dental Plans Association was founded. Born as a pilot that was only expected to last a few years, this program redefined the nature of dentistry and birthed the dental benefits industry that exists today.

• Nationwide Delta Dental Plans Association

Washington is 1 of 39 independent member companies who make up the nationwide DDPA. Together we serve all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. We provide dental benefits to over 63 million people from 93,000 member groups across the nation.

• We’re not-for-profit 

We believe everyone deserves a healthy smile. So in 1985 we established the Washington Dental Service Foundation to support our mission. Each year the Foundation works to make permanent changes within our state to prevent oral disease and improve overall health. With a focus on children and seniors, they expand access to care by investing in community health centers, train physicians to deliver oral health screenings during well-child visits, train elder caregivers to support senior oral care, support community water fluoridation, run the SmileMobile, a mobile dental clinic serving children in rural areas who may not have access to care and work to ensure that access to dental care is not forgotten with our lawmakers in Olympia.

Across the US, in 2014 alone, Delta Dental member companies collectively donated $43 million to support the oral and overall health of the communities we serve. Learn more about our programs in Washington.                                   

We’ve been powering healthy smiles and revolutionizing oral health for over 60 years. Give us a call to learn how we can keep you smiling!

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